South Quay planning blueprint gets go-ahead

South Quay Footbridge in London. Credit: Creative Commons.

South Quay Footbridge in the Isle of Dogs, London. Credit: Creative Commons.

A bid to control new development in the Isle of Dogs has foundered after Tower Hamlets rubber-stamped a planning document for the area, councillors claimed this week.

The document, known as the South Quay Development master plan, had been put on ice following objections that creating concentrated areas of dense population would impact on community and infrastructure.

However, Tower Hamlets council this week passed it at a cabinet meeting on October 6 claiming that it would “set the tone” of development in the area.

It outlines the preferred scale of development along the south quay in the Isle of Dogs.

Ordnance map showing boundary of proposed development. Credit: Tower Hamlets Council.

Ordnance map showing boundary of proposed development. Credit: Tower Hamlets Council.

Conservative Canary Wharf Councillor Andrew Wood, among other local councillors, have expressed concerns about the estimated £150,000 cost of the document and slates the SBD as merely a “powerless planning document”.

Wood believes the council have spent too much money on a document that is not worth implementing due to its lack of prospect, and said there is “very little change in the document since it was put on hold”.

“A few of the developers wanted the wordings of certain things changed but it’s effectively the same as it was,” he said. “This was a wasted opportunity. It is clear that this will not have the legal strength to help us do anything.”

He added: “If I was John Biggs, I would have cancelled it.”

The developments to the Isle of Dogs and Blackwall are expected to raise the population from 40,000 to 115,000 over the next 10 years, despite council efforts to suppress the pace of the development.

The council said they have made safeguarding the quality of life of local residents a key priority, but Biggs admitted the master plan will not address questions in an area where high population levels are a concern.

“We quite rightly put a hold on the master plan to see if it needed further consideration,” Biggs said. “There are strong concerns in the borough over the impact of hyper density schemes on communities and infrastructure.”

“The master plan will not address the range of concerns about development in the area, nor will it change the main planning policies of the council and at City Hall – it will however help to set the tone on the detail and that’s why the master plan is important.”

The master plan lists a variety of improvements developers are set to make to amenities in the area, such as new green spaces, community centres, health facilities, libraries and primary schools.

It also makes provisions for improved walking and cycling routes, new and improved bus services into Canary Wharf and “innovative solutions” to manage waste.

Rachel Blake, Cabinet Member for Strategic Development, said: “The role of this SPD is to shape development permitted through the local plan which has to be consistent with the London Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework.

“We took a pause to think about whether or not we are connecting infrastructure development and design within the South Quay master plan area enough to the scale of development.

“We need to be honest about where the influence lies in the scale of development on the Isle of Dogs and we must represent and stand up for the residents of the Isle of Dogs bringing forward decent infrastructure and decent homes for the people that need it.

The SBD also outlines what it considers as “reasonable options” for population density, suggesting somewhere between 1,100 and 3,000 habitable rooms per hectare, 3 times larger than recommendations made in 2009.

Blake added: “The South Quay master plan can only help shape development.”

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